By Patrick Brogan
There has been a backlash against a number of individuals and corporations in light of the release of the “Paradise Papers”. They were a collection documents, roughly 13.4 million, relating to tax affairs obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. Most of these came from Appleby, a firm that focuses on off-shore tax accounts and is based Bermuda.
On LBC, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said British people were under the largest tax burden since the Post-War period. This might be true, but Mr Farage is not the most open when it comes to taxes.
He came in for criticism for not showing the public his tax returns. After the similar Panama Papers were released, many politicians agreed to show the details of their finances to the wider populous. Farage steadfastly refused. He said it was a private matter. This isn’t entirely true, though. For instance, an organisation might be paying Farage, and it all may be above board, but this could lead to a conflict of interest further down the road. The people are entitled to know this. For instance, a fracking company could be paying him to make speeches, but later on he might have to vote on some matter relating to fracking in the European Parliament. Is he going to bite the hand that feeds him?
Indeed, Farage is no stranger to controversy surrounding off-shore tax accounts. He set one up in the Isle of Man a few years back, although he claimed he actually lost money on it. It is worrying that years later he refused to allow his current records to be made public.
If we go further back into his past, it becomes slightly more troubling. His career was spent predominantly in the City of London. His politics reflect this. His policies put the ills of British society squarely on immigrants entering the country and imposed EU policies when it is obvious to any rational person that the financial system, his buddies in the City, are more culpable to blame than any other section of society. He once said that UKIP would over turn the current political class by offering the British public the opportunity of a more direct democracy. A major factor in a proper working democracy is having all the information readily available. Farage does not, and never will, provide this.
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